My grandson, Jackson, is now four years old and is into his “why” years. To his credit he generally accepts your answer to his why question fairly gracefully. He may follow the first why with several additional whys but he is usually satisfied within three or four. Jackson is observant and is constantly checking out everything as to how it works. I have stepped into my role as Opa and have taken him on excursions to discover new things. Along the way, Jackson has become very fond of Home Depot. Before I wander further, I must compliment Home Depot on the clever marketing trick that they have developed to lure in unsuspecting grandpas with their grandchildren. Every other Saturday or so they offer a free “build it” class for kids. They cordon off an area in the lumber aisle and the kids get a complimentary craft kit and are able to assemble and paint their project. Now how can they afford all those free precut kits and paint you ask? Let’s put it this way, I have yet to leave the store on one of these “free” days without $100 to $200 worth of goods. I guess they saw me coming because those end caps as they are called, are just beckoning with all those shiny tools I never knew I needed but certainly couldn’t live without.
Into this very inviting space comes Jackson. A typical trip to Home Depot will last upwards of two hours. Now this makes his parents and Mimi quite happy as it allows them two uninterrupted hours to catch their breath, though that generally ends up being spent chasing our one year old granddaughter Adela, around the house as she now has their undivided attention. Meanwhile Jackson is wandering. We must open, walk through, and close every entry door in the home exterior section. This of course means that we must also explore, until satisfied, how each storm window opens, closes and locks. Chalk up most of hour number one.
Hour number two finds us in the appliance and kitchen area. It is at this point that I begin my wondering. Jackson is most fascinated with refrigerators. And what man, young or old, wouldn’t be? Dish washers, clothes dryers, washers, merely utilitarian, but refrigerators, or fridges as we men call them, are works of art. They used to just keep things cold, period. Not anymore. They are divided into zones of coldness because no one wants meat at the same temperature as their lettuce and that would be no where near the perfect temperature for milk and wine. Yes I said wine. But that is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. They have see through doors that light up at the Sheldon like three raps (reference Big Bang Theory). And that door has a compartment within the door! Believe me when I tell you Jackson marvels at that feature. He tells me immediately that the “door in a door” invention is just for him and his supply of juice boxes, you know, the ones that squirt all over when you try to insert the straw. Those boxes, but that’s another story for some other time. I digress.
Had enough? But wait, there’s more. The really “cool” fridges have computers built in. They will track your every move and then make your grocery list for you. No more secret snacking after midnight guys. That list is then sent to your cell phone. Throw in a linked Alexa or Siri, and you have the beginnings of an appliance conspiracy. I suspect they might even have their own Facebook page where they report on and laugh about their owners. There’s probably a camera hidden in that door within the door. Don’t believe me? Search “my refrigerator” on your Facebook page and see if it agrees to accept your friend request.
After a thorough examination of every one of these refrigerators, Jackson tells me he is adding the one with the most impressive engineering to “his list”. Now I am wondering just how serious is this list? We move on to the stoves. Not much time needed here, I suspect he likes eating the food more than preparing it. I will let his Aunt Kat and Eli work on the development of that talent. Within minutes, Jackson has decided on the grill top gas grill. He is particularly fascinated with the push in and turn nobs. We decide on the shiniest model and add it to his now growing list. French style entry doors, crank out storm windows, a $5400 refrigerator with all the bells and whistles and a four burner grill top gas stove now adorn “the list”.
On to the cabinets. And again guys, amazing innovations for you manly organizers out there. In no time flat we are on a quest to verify which cabinets and cupboards are fitted with self-closing drawers. Apparently it has come to the attention of kitchen designers that we are running out of our kitchens without remembering, or taking the time I guess, to shut the drawers and close the doors. Jackson tells me that “his cabinets” MUST have these self-closers or they are not making “the list”. We have almost isolated the winner when we discover two not to be without features. Wait for it…….the ultimate in convenience and organization, the toe kick hidden flat pan drawer and the pull out, wire framed organizer, drop-down upper cabinet. The entire innards float effortlessly down to the counter top where Jackson declares “there’s where my fruit snack packs go.” And these, of course, have now been added to the list.
In the course of our two hour adventure, Jackson’s description, I have staved off several persistent floor sales reps, visited almost every section and aisle and if his parents fulfill his list, will have spent somewhere in the vicinity of $40,000 on Jackson’s house. Way to go Home Depot. We head for the front to escape and then head to McDonald’s to discuss the details of our finds and of course, to get our happy meal and toy.
And so I wonder? Will Jackson become a designer? Or maybe an engineer? One of the store reps, after watching him carefully study the icemakers, suggested he consider being a plumber as they make so much more than engineers, her belief not necessarily mine and apologies to both careers. Maybe he will write for a consumer magazine. No matter what Jackson decides, I am amazed at watching the inquisitive mind of a four year old boy at work and humbled at his ability to figure out the technology and mechanics by simple observations. I am sure that if we just encourage the curiosity of our children and grandchildren, the future is bright for a never ending evolution of new and creative conveniences.
And now it’s time to visit an electronics store. Oh God. Thank you Jackson for letting me wonder as you wandered.